HTML5 Boilerplate 6.1.0 Released

The news is coming fast and furious these days. Last week I offered up a big update on my SVG book (which I’m still in the process of finishing) and now I’m pleased to announce that we just released HTML5 Boilerplate 6.1.

In addition to the regular updates to dependencies, etc. the biggest change was moving to eslint for JavaScript linting. That was a lingering change we were unable to get into 6.0 and that change ended up being my biggest personal contribution to this release.

Speaking of contributions, Christian Oliff was instrumental in getting 6.1 out the door. I often woke up to a flurry of PRs as he threw together updates while I was busy sleeping, so he definitely kept this release on track. So, in addition to our ever-expanding cast of contributors, he definitely deserves big-time kudos for this release 🏆🏅✌️

Here’s the full release notes:

6.1.0 (May 1, 2018)

HTML5 Boilerplate 6.0 Released

drink

If you’ve been paying attention, you will have noticed that HTML5 Boilerplate 6.0.0 came out a few weeks ago. If not, it did. 6.0.1 has since been released.

It was a long time coming and I’m super happy to have it shipped. It was a lot of fun. Working with a project like this invariably means you have to do new things, so getting a major release out the door (where you have to touch everything) is a fun, educational experience. And, of course, working with the community is also pretty great.

Thanks!

Anyway, it was a big release and featured a lot of nifty stuff including:

  • We finally removed IE8 Support. This was a change that we had been discussing for some time and it was one of the first things I pushed through when I started taking a more active role on the project. Thanks to everyone for their help and input on this one.
  • We finally added a sample web app manifest file. That code had been percolating for years and it finally shipped.
  • We upgraded to Modernizr 3 and added a sample Mondernizr config so that people can do their own custom builds locally. Our Modernizr file is now created at build-time and I reworked the default detects to be more, er, modern.
  • We found out someone unaffiliated with the project had published the project to npm, so we took control of the package (thank you npm– support you were awesome) and published an official npm package.
  • And… lots of other great work by many contributors, including a ton of great work late in the process by Christian Oliff. Thanks to everyone for your contributions.

As a note, we still have an open bug that we’d love to get your input on– macOS – VoiceOver / Chrome announcing visually hidden text out of order · Issue #1985 · h5bp/html5-boilerplate. It’s an Apple bug with accessibility concerns that we’d like to work around.

As for what’s next… I’ll be opening up a couple of new issues for discussion this week, I think. So keep your eyes on the repo and join in on the fun.

Filling the Void Part 1: Random Projects and SSL via Let’s Encrypt

As I mentioned last month, my last long-term project ended in December. Between the holidays and then two separate instances of thinking I had something lined up and it falling through, I’ve only been working part-time over the past few weeks. While I’d prefer to be working full time (please reach out if you’re looking for help with anything) I have made myself useful over the past few weeks with side-projects and tinkering with new technology. I figured it might be fun to go through some of what I’ve been up to. This is the first of two posts detailing what I’ve done on my “winter break.”

SSL with Let’s Encrypt

One of my favorite projects has been switching several of my domains over to HTTPS using the free certs from Let’s Encrypt. I was really excited when my long-time host, FutureQuest announced support for Let’s Encrypt, including automatic updates. I love that this free path to secure communication exists and was excited to take advantage of it when my host offered it. Paying a one-time $25 setup fee is a lot better than the cost of an SSL certificate.

I was worried about what the drive to encryption by Google and others would do to smaller web publishers and businesses. I understand the need for and heartily support encrypted communication across all channels, I just hated the idea that small-fry publishers would get punished (in search ranking, etc.) for being insecure when the cost would be prohibitive for many publishers. Let’s Encrypt removes that monetary hurdle. Great stuff.

Futurequest’s implementation was pretty easy so the only difficulty was in getting WordPress working well with SSL (all three sites so far have been WordPress.) Generally, that was okay. A clean WordPress install is fine, but once you get into a real-world installation things get icky. Every migration included at least one instance where the site in question completely blew up because of one plugin or another. The good news is I was able to work around all those issues pretty easily (deleting plugins is especially easy) and am now running up and running on HTTPS on three of my sites.

Pretty sweet.

Time for a Refresh

One of the earliest projects I worked on was a refresh of the $100,000 Club and the All Time Record Comic Book Sales SVG visualization (a scatter plot.) Both of those projects are on Angular 1 and going back and updating them several years later was a lot of fun. I’d had a few things I wanted to do with the visualization for a few years and I jumped at the chance to implement them. It’s much nicer under the hood now.

All that code is on github.

Random Projects

As the above indicates, I do a lot of comic book related research and code. I have continued to document the Edgar Church Collection and have also started to document other named comic book collections. Free data for comic book people.

I’d like to do something interesting with the Edgar Church data this year. We’ll see what I come up with.


That’s round one. Round two, with Angular 2, React and Auerlia, will drop sometime next week.

A Few Paragraphs on Angular 2

Look! I’m back! I may end up writing here more often that I have over the past couple of years as I’m significantly cutting back on the amount of time I spend on Twitter. If you’ve enjoyed me saying “get off my lawn” on Twitter over the past few months, you’ll have to come here to read those thoughts. There is the benefit of paragraphs and formatting on the site, so there’s that. If you’re curious what the hell I’m talking about, this tweet-storm is a great example. That kind of stuff will live here now, if the mood strikes me.

The mood has struck! Read on!


I just finished up a long-term consulting gig and, while I’m kicking off a shorter-term a project for another long-term client, I’m also looking to set up my next big project. That’s the big question for me right now- what am I going to be doing for 2017?

As part of that process, I’m finally going to do a deep dive into Angular 2. I worked with it a little bit at my last client, but that’s not really enough for me to really feel like I know it. People are interested in it. I’m interested in it. So… I’m looking at it.

I’m starting with Switching to Angular 2. I’ve got a bunch of Angular 1.* experience so a book written for people looking to move from 1 to 2 seems like a decent place to start.

Between the book and the exposure I had to it on my previous project, my initial take is that it feels like everything that’s right and wrong about the web all wrapped up into one package.

It’s “right” in that it’s really well put together. The general framework architecture combined with the use of TypeScript make it a very compelling alternative for certain types of applications and teams. Like Angular 1 before it, it works for me for some things.

It’s “wrong” in that it’s just ridiculous. It doesn’t make sense for most of what people actually need to do on the web.

Modern web development is generally too damn complicated for its own good. That complexity is heightened by the interconnected, patchwork nature of modern front end development. If you buy into this mode of development you are relying on a matrix of software that no human could possibly vet. You’re basically acknowledging you’re going to live with random bugs, dependency issues, and reams of alpha software you’re supposed to trust going into production.

Angular 2 is exactly that.

On my first project with Angular 2, I experienced weeks of flaky builds as the development landscape shifted randomly underneath us. Many dependencies were also flaky and/or barely maintained. So much fun! Once the builds stabilized, I was flabbergasted to take a look at how much code was required to run the application. node_modules had over 1000 dependencies and our main.bundle.js was over 4.5MB. This was for a read-only application. It didn’t even do anything. I can’t help but think that’s ridiculous. For complicated, large-scale applications I can see the benefits, but for something simple… holy cow that’s a lot of code to solve the kinds of problems I was able to solve with a few hundred KB of pure JavaScript in 2006.

More on it as I get deeper into this dive.


On a final, related note, I’m really interested in exploring a way to marry the best of modern web development with a more stable, accessible (in both senses) and minimalist approach. There’s got to be something more appropriate for smaller applications and general “web” development.

Happy Birthday Palatino Consulting!

My business turned two years old on Friday. Yay my business!

So, how’s it been?

Great.

It’s truly been a joy working for myself over the past two years. I really wish I’d done it sooner.

One thing that’s been a negative is the fact that I haven’t done any writing or speaking engagements since The Uncertain Web was released. It’s a bummer, but that’s the way it’s gone. I’ve been busy with paid work and, to be honest, I was a bit burned out from writing three books in three years, so a long break has been good for me.

I’ve actually got a pretty big backlog of ideas to go through. There’s been a lot of bullshit flowing through front end development over the past couple of years and I have “big thoughts” on all of it. Considering how busy I’ve been so far in 2016, I doubt that I’ll get a change to write about it, but if I do, I promise I’ll make you laugh.

I’ve also had the opportunity to work with a variety of technologies over the past couple of years, so I have opinions (real, working opinions) on just about everything out there right now. That’s fun and would be fun to share.

We’ll see.

(Don’t hold your breath, though!)

One thing that I have kept up with is open source work. I haven’t been a demon or anything, but I have been knocking off some work pretty consistently over this year especially. That’s always fun.

One thing I should mention is that I occasionally need some development help. I’m especially interested in WordPress, Angular and pure HTML+CSS freelancers. Shoot me an email if that sounds like you.

Doing the Same Thing Over and Over Again and Expecting Different Results

Here I am taking a shot at shorter form writing. Watch me write!

The biggest job/career related error I made this past year was going against my own policy and talking to a company I had a bad feeling about from the beginning. I’ve actually known about this company for a long time and think poorly of them. The thing is, a recruiter came along and told me how much they were paying for a high profile role they were trying to source. That number was higher than the honestly very high number I have in my head to go work for someone else at this point. So, against my better judgment and against my own stated policy of not talking to people unless I’m sure the company will be a good fit, I talked to them.

I’m a dumb-ass.

The one part of the conversation that sticks with me is the “big” question in the interview. Apparently, they’ve got a lot of separate development teams who have worked in multiple versions of Angular on different components that have to play nice together on the same page. As you can imagine that has caused problems. Apparently, they’re also kicking off some development using React. With that cluster in mind, they asked, how would I help solve the issues they were having with all these interoperability concerns at an architectural level.

My answer was simple. I said, “Stop doing that. Don’t use React and standardize on one Angular version.”

I could hear the frustration in the interviewer’s voice as he said, “that’s not really an option” as if pointing out the obvious solution to their self-inflicted problem was an insult to him personally. I could tell he wanted to hear some hair-brained technical solution (“I know we’ll write REACTANGULAR and it will normalize across all Angular versions”) that would rescue them from a disaster of their own making, without having to do hard work. He lead me down that path a little with some follow-up questions. The thing is, that’s precisely the kind of bullshit is never going to come out of my mouth. I wasn’t going to blow smoke up his ass just so that he can ignore the obvious solution. To me, when you’re doing something so fundamentally wrong, the best solution is to bite the bullet and do something fundamentally right to counteract it.

How they thought introducing an entire second library to the mix was a good idea is something that will forever confound me. They’ve already identified this as a problem and they’re willingly making it more complex. That’s insanity.

Suffice it to say, they didn’t like me for the role.

So many companies are obsessed with being on latest and greatest libraries and frameworks. If, like this company, you want to be a great engineering organization you should focus on doing great work. If you’re architecture is a patchwork monster it doesn’t matter if you’ve got the new and shiny. You’ve just got a new and shiny patchwork monster.

Palatino Consulting, One Year In

While I’ve been consulting independently for slightly more than a year, I’ve been doing so under the Palatino Consulting banner for exactly one year, this week.

It’s been going pretty well, thanks for asking.

I’m at the point now where I’m starting to think about whether or not I want to expand this business to include more than just me. The opportunity is there (and has been since day one, to be honest), I’m just not sure if that’s the way I want to go. I like my simple life right now, but I do miss having a team to work with so I’m tempted to start to expand. Maybe, like the founding of the business itself, I’ll be forced into a decision one way or another by some circumstance. At least in this case it will be positive (some opportunity I can’t pass up) rather than negative (getting laid off.)

The one downside to the success is that I’ve had a hard time finding time to write . Which is fine on a lot of levels as I like what I’m doing and working for myself makes even the longest week a lot more satisfying. This is especially true because, unlike many people putting in 60 hour weeks, I get paid for every minute of my time.

Fireworks
Fireworks by Flickr user maf04

Still, I’d like to share more here as a lot of what I talk about in the book is still going strong, but I’ve found it hard to get into the flow of writing again after 3 or so years writing books back-to-back. We’ll see how it goes. I may try to take some baby steps with short pieces and see if the habit sticks.

If not, remember- I’ve still got the web’s back.

Current Status: For Hire

My current long-term consulting gig is ending at the end of June and, being a fan of managing uncertainty (did you see how I did that?) I’m trying to line something up for the summer sooner rather than later. I’m sure I’ll find something (I’ve got recruiters knocking down my door), but I’m also interested in finding something that will be fun and/or challenging so I’m making a concerted effort to let the world know.

If you’re interested you can check out the small site for my consulting business

I’m on LinkedIn

View Rob Larsen's LinkedIn profileView Rob Larsen’s profile

This is what I do

  • Front End Architecture
  • Training
  • Front end development, with a focus on the following:
    • General JavaScript and jQuery development
    • AngularJS applications and components
    • RWD (Responsive web design) development
    • Mobile web sites and applications
    • Web performance consulting
    • Pixel perfect CSS layouts
  • Process and standards development

Drop me a line if you’re interested

Google Chrome Reverses Course- Will Implement Pointer Events

This is great news. One of the worst chapters from a standards perspective in The Uncertain Web was on user input. At the time I wrote the chapter, I had a relatively positive tone. The flow of the chapter led to a discussion of Pointer Events and how, with support in IE and intended implementation in both Firefox and Chrome, we were on the cusp of having a sane way to deal with user input across devices and form factors.

Then it all went to hell.

Here’s what I wrote in the book:

As you’ve read in the chapter on user input, the Pointer Events specification, proposed by Microsoft, favored by Firefox and adopted by the W3C, is up in the air because Chrome isn’t sure whether or not they are going to support it. This was announced after I finished the chapter on user input. I found out via Twitter that Chrome was going to pull planned support for Pointer Events and felt about as deflated as I’ve ever felt about a web standards topic. For one thing, I like Pointer Events. I’m not sharing them as the way of the future just to be hip and share the new stuff. I really like them. Secondly, Google’s proposed alternative, “incrementally extending our existing input APIs” doesn’t really offer much of a salve to the wound of two wasted years looking for this specification to get off the ground and into browsers.

Maybe, like the door on +picture+ being reopened and bursting through to get into the specification, the already specified Pointer Events’ work will come back from the dead and make it into Chrome and the rest of modern browsers. The Chrome team are listening to feedback, so hopefully that’s just what’s going to happen.

We shall see.

Here’s what I wrote when Chrome announced the changed status of the original intent to implement:

I’ve already had to rewrite a book chapter on input on the web because of Chrome dropping support for Pointer Events (you were the good guys- along with IE you form an 800lb gorilla) to be a lot more bleak (now Chrome is the bad guys and we don’t have any solution on the horizon.) Nothing would please me more than to revert to the original take on that chapter.

I also don’t want to pin my hopes on this issue getting sorted out on the vague promise of “extensions” to the existing screwed up mess. What guarantee do we have that Apple will be any more interested in “extensions.” Will Chrome’s BFFs on the IE team be interested in “extensions?” If we’re looking at incremental extensions as the solution (with no more details than that,) I will be retired, drinking coffee at Sant’Eustachio Il Caffè and struggling my way through La Gazzetta dello Sport before the issue of user input on the modern web is sorted out in a way that benefits developers and end users. Smart people are doing stupid things with this stuff because it’s a complicated issue. Browser vendors and the W3C have to lead on this and sort it out from up on high because the bottom up approach isn’t working right now.

Thankfully, the Chrome team listened to reason (and a flood of negative feedback for their decision) and have reversed course.

Now we just need to get the new jQuery-driven version of the Pointer Events polyfill project ready for prime time and we’ll be all set.


As an aside, if there’s one good thing that came out of Chrome’s decision is that they Polymer team deprecated the Pointer Events Polyfill and passed the codebase over to jQuery. The Polymer version of the polyfill had a high barrier to entry to even get to use. I just linked to a version in my own code repo for the book because I hated the idea of forcing people to go through a multiple-dependency, poorly documented rigmarole just to “install” the polyfill. The jQuery team will, eventually, have a handy download link right on the site- like a normal project.